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Baltimore fires another police commissioner after record high murder rate

The mayor of Baltimore abruptly announced today that she had fired city’s police commissioner after a year of unprecedented violence in the city.

Mayor Catherine Pugh said that Darryl De Sousa, a 30-year veteran of the department who was most recently a deputy police commissioner, would replace Kevin Davis, who became commissioner in 2015. De Sousa will be Baltimore’s ninth police commissioner since 1994.

Baltimore experienced a record murder rate last year and had by far the highest rate of the 30 most populous U.S. cities.

There have been more than 300 homicides there in each of the past three years, including 343 recorded in 2017. By comparison, New York, which has a population more than 10 times that of Baltimore, recorded 286 murders last year.

“The fact is, we are not achieving the pace of progress that our residents have every right to expect,” Pugh said in a statement.

In a news conference, Pugh explained why she had suddenly chosen De Sousa to replace Davis, with whom he had worked hand-in-hand.

“I’m impatient,” she said. “We need violence reduction. We need the numbers to go down faster than they are.”

De Sousa said he had already begun an initiative to flood the city’s streets with waves of police officers from 9 a.m. to midnight.

He indicated that he would hew to anti-violence measures introduced by Pugh in August, referring to a surplus of officers who would be better deployed on the city’s streets than in administrative positions or elsewhere.

“The priority as of this moment right now is really simple — it’s a really simple priority and that’s violence reduction,” he said.

Davis was appointed after the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year old man who was killed after suffering a spinal cord injury while riding unsecured in a police vehicle. Davis presided over several years of violence and protest, but demonstrated that he was dedicated to reform, working closely with the U.S. Department of Justice as required by the city’s consent decree with the federal government.

De Sousa will need to seek confirmation from the City Council.

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